What is the deal with eggs? It seems recently I have been bombarded with the health benefits – perhaps some of you have seen the “Boiled Egg Diet” while scrolling through Pinterest? Or the classic health-nut character in the sitcom who puts raw eggs in his morning smoothie.
I wanted to find the research behind the health claims that have been made about eggs, and ultimately decide if I would include them in my diet.
The first question I asked was “Are eggs good for you or bad for you?” When you search this in Google, the results are a mixed basket.
When reading through studies, I spotted an interesting report on “Recent Media” surrounding the benefits of eggs – uncovering that the two studies that have been driving the “Healthy Eggs” message are both missing pieces.
Both of these studies were funded by egg marketing agencies. This phenomena seems to be quite prevalent in the nutrition industry, making it hard to believe anything you read.
Dr. Michael Greger debunks two other egg studies, showing that subjects who were tested were already extremely unhealthy, and that adding eggs to their diets made little to no difference to their health because of a “plateau effect” of their unhealthy arteries. Dr. Greger then goes to show that taking eggs away, and eating oatmeal instead actually benefits the health of someone who is at high risk for a cardiac event.
In other research, especially among physicians like Dr. Neal Barnard and Dr. Michael Greger, we find over and over that eggs significantly increase your risk for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
An article “Egg consumption in relation to risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis” by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition analyzed 16 different studies that ranged from 1,600 to 90,735 participants, with follow up times ranging from 5.8 to 20.0 years. In other words – these were large scale studies that all lasted more than 5 years, some lasting 20 years.
What they found: if you eat one egg a day, you are 49% more likely to develop type II diabetes than those who eat 1 egg or less a week. If you have diabetes and you eat one egg a day, you are 69% more likely to have Cardiovascular Disease than those who eat one egg or less a week.
The article “Egg Consumption and Risk of Heart Failure in the Physicians’ Health Study” from the American Heart Association Circulation, details a cohort study of 21,275 participants from the Physicians’ Health Study (this was a study on doctors!) with an average follow up of 20 years. 1,084 heart failures occurred. Physicians who consumed less than or equal to 2 eggs a day had a 65% increase in heart failures when compared to those who consumed less than one egg a week.
Here is a video from Dr. Greger that shows why this increase in heart disease occurs.
You may be thinking that eggs are a good source of protein, which brings us back to previous blog posts uncovering the American Protein Myth. If you eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet: lots of leafy green and other vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, and fruits, you will get more than enough protein. The benefit is that plant-based protein is packaged in a whole-food, rich with other nutrients and fiber. Protein from an egg comes in a package of fat and cholesterol.
One egg has 6 grams of protein, one cup of lentils has 18 grams of protein, not to mention a cup of lentils is far more filling than one egg! Just check out the nutrition labels below. Eggs are high in fat and don’t contain any fiber – compared to lentils that have no fat and 16 grams of fiber!
For every benefit I found in eating eggs, there is even more compelling research that shows a diet without eggs is most likely the better choice for long-term health.
I read an article on the 10 benefits of eggs – which stated that eggs contain choline, and that we all need more of it. Research actually shows that choline, a nutrient found in eggs, is processed to form TMAO, which has been linked to promoting heart attacks and strokes. The article “Gut flora metabolism of phosphatidylcholine promotes cardiovascular disease” in the journal Nature, recommends that you decrease your intake of eggs and other fatty foods to avoid an increased risk of heart disease linked to choline.
Every nutrient found in an egg can be found in more abundance in plant-based foods – which are not only without the negative affect, but have actually be proven to reverse diseases like diabetes and heart disease!
Research is showing that if you eat one egg or less a week, it will most likely not significantly affect your health.
Research is also showing that if you are looking to prevent fatal diseases, it is recommended that each meal you eat is focused on these four food groups:
Vegetables (the more green the better), Grains, Legumes & Beans, and Fruit.
Most important: Cut out foods that are high in fat and highly processed – this includes meat, dairy, eggs, and sugary foods. There are many resources available to help you transition to a whole-food, plant-based diet. Check out what Dr. Geibel recommends.
It looks like eggs are out, and it is time to start experimenting with cooking alternatives and new breakfast foods! Check out some of the tips below to get started!
COOKING WITHOUT EGGS
It has become easier than ever to bake and cook without eggs. The following is a list of foods that are equal to 1 egg, and you can use them to replace eggs in different recipes.
¼ cup tofu (any kind) blended with the liquid ingredients of a recipe.
½ banana, mashed
¼ cup soy yogurt
1-1 ½ teaspoons Ener-G Foods Egg Replacer powder + 2 tablespoons of lukewarm water
¼ cup mashed white potatoes or sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal + 3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons potato starch, cornstarch, or arrowroot
2-3 tablespoons of tomato paste
¼ cup cooked oats
2-3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
2-3 tablespoons of flour
BREAKFAST WITHOUT EGGS
Rolled oats tops with frozen blueberries, peanut butter, chia seeds or ground flaxseed, and soymilk/soy yogurt. You can even add cocoa powder for a chocolatey treat.
Toast with avocado, seasoned, mashed chickpeas (or hummus), and tomatoes. Plant-based toast toppings are almost unlimited – just use your imagination and experiment until you find your favorite!
Tofu scramble: firm tofu cubed, “fried” in coconut milk with onions, garlic, and ginger. Seasoned with turmeric, garlic salt, or liquid aminos (a soy sauce alternative). Throw in chopped collards and/or kale and let those steam to perfection. Dr. Geibel and his family make this almost every weekend, and recommend using a good non-stick pan so that you don’t have to use oil.
Sweet potato scramble: boil cubed sweet potato until soft, then add fresh garlic, jalapeno, onion, mushroom, and zucchini. Fry these using water and a non-stick pan (no oil). Season with salt and chipotle for a delicious smoky flavor. Add your choice of greens right before you are ready to serve, so that they steam just perfectly. (omit jalapeno if you don’t like hot/spicy!)
Don’t limit yourself to “traditional breakfast foods” – you can eat any food you like in the morning! Lentils and greens are a great way to start the day – filling and packed with nutrients.
Check out our post about breakfast to learn how you can promote weight loss while giving your body the nutrients it needs to keep you energized all day!